The Library of Congress reports 15,000 to 20,000 new children’s books published every year. In 2013, 2012, or any recent year, how many of those showed Black boys as the main characters? Girls? Please name those books.
It is time for a SEQUEL! Family relationships were explored and affirmed in my joyful anthology of poems celebrating the diversity of African American families, shown above. In this book, I collaborated with his mother, noted educator Dorothy Strickland, to bring us this warm collection. Rich and powerful poems by Eloise Greenfield, Lucille Clifton, and others are rooted in deeply felt values of belonging and mutual respect.
Families: Poems Celebrating the African American Experience came out in 1994. Close to a decade later, we still see several problems in the world of children’s books. The biggest problem is still a severe lack of texts with African American children as the main characters.
I highlighted the need for such literature in a May 16, 2013 blog entry.
According to author Varian Johnson:
He quoted a librarian who said; At the risk of sounding desperate, can anyone name me just ONE middle grade novel published in 2013 starring an African-American boy?
“She later followed up with a post listing all the books published in 2013 featuring African-American boys as main characters,” this famous black Young Adult author added. “If I’m counting correctly, the number is somewhere around eight. Maybe ten, when you count some of the small publishers.”
“You have no idea how depressed this makes me feel,” Varian said. There are a lot of theories why these books aren’t being published. Maybe authors aren’t writing them. Maybe editors and agents aren’t acquiring them. Maybe readers don’t want them.”
This makes me sad too. Friends have pointed to two or three books — that is awful since the Library of Congress reports 15,000 to 20,000 new children’s books published every year. So I choose to be a part of the solution, and will write, compile and collect a sequel to Families: Poems Celebrating the African American Experience. Black children will be the main characters, and I will have a special emphasis on those missing black boys.
Money donated will help with expenses related to the book, including hiring an illustrator; writing time; copyright permissions; phone and technology expenses for interviews and research; office materials; and professional manuscript reviewers.
INVISIBLE CHILDRENGift Cards to stores such as OfficeMax, Staples, WalMart, Fred Meyer, and other chains are also welcome.
Please help us make a change for the in children’s books.
My book, “Hairucts at Sleepy Sam’s” tells the story of me and my three brothers on our trips to the barber shop, growing up in Orange, New Jersey.